Kettal re-edits the archetypal Nordic basket chair, created in the 1950s by Danish designers Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel.
Kettal, whose “classic collection” includes furniture from well-known Nordic designers, has reinterpreted the iconic ‘basket chair’ for the Salone del Mobile 2014.
Kettal now offers the woven wicker chair, made from oak, in both its’ ‘original’ version and in an outdoor adaptation.
The traditional “Ditzel chair” has hand-braided wicker, while the outdoor version is made from artificial fiber and teak to protect against the elements.
The ‘basket chair’ is accompanied with custom cushion fabrics that are also designed by Nanna Ditzel, who has been coined the ‘Queen of Danish Design’.
In 1950 Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel created an unusual bowl-shaped seat, essentially a basket hanging from a light oak frame, achieving a chair design that blended the seat and backrest into a bowl of a form consistent with a shell, outstanding for being organic in its form and in its materials.
The use of craft materials and painstaking skill in making the rounded form, along with the chair’s pure lines give a sensation of comfort and luxury in a seat that allows a variety of positions.
Having been distinguished with awards at the Cabinetmakers Guild Exhibition and at the Milan Triennale in 1951, the wicker chair (1950) inspired a rediscovery and exploration of the malleable properties of wicker and, consequently, a renewed status for wicker furniture in interior design.
The 1950s wicker chair sparked a series of experiments with hanging upholstered shapes on wooden frames.
The Basket chair won awards in 1950 at the Cabinetmakers Guild Exhibition and in 1951 at the Milan Triennale.
Danish designers Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel began their careers very young. In the early 1950s they designed furniture using innovative materials, without ignoring classic materials.
In 1954 they designed a jewellery line, which won a gold and a silver medal at the Milan Triennale, and was key to their winning the Lunning Prize in 1956.
After a period in London, Nanna Ditzel opened a studio in Copenhagen.
She designed a wide range of furniture, textiles and jewellery up until her death in 2005.
These include the ‘Trinidad’ chair, for Fredericia Furniture, and ‘Hallingdal’, a fabric created for the Halling-Koch Design Centre, in collaboration with Kvadrat.
Nanna Ditzel later extended the ‘Hallingdal’ design with over a hundred colour combinations, which became part of outstanding interior designs all over the world.
Wicker maker Robert Wengler was now known as the best wicker maker in Denmark and many architects came to his workshop to get know-how and understanding about weaving and wicker work.
Among those were Danish architects Arne Jacobsen, Viggo Boesen, Nanna & Jørgen Ditzel and Kay Bojesen.
They had many of their prototypes made in R. Wenglers workshop in Copenhagen.
At the end of World War II, Denmark emerged as the standard-bearer for a revolutionary wave of furniture design hallmarked by a profound simplicity and practical functionality designed to fit the needs of small-scale European living spaces.
Although Danish design was largely the realm of men, Nanna Ditzel (nee Hauberg, 1923–2005) emerged as one of the most successful and influential Danish designers, male or female, of the 20th century.
A virtuoso designer of furniture, jewelry, and textiles, Ditzel produced a staggering oeuvre during her six-decade career.
Her work—known for its sleek style, innovative mediums, and bold color choices—has had a lasting impact.
Many of her designs are still in production by Danish firms, while other works continue to fetch high prices at auction
About Nanna Ditzel
Nanna (nee Hauberg) Ditzel (1923 – 2005) was one of Denmark’s most accomplished contemporary designers
She was dubbed the “First Lady of Danish Furniture Design” by the Scandinavian Furniture Fair, a title bestowed upon her for her long career in furniture, textile and jewelry design.
She was born in Copenhagen in 1923 and enjoyed a family atmosphere that fostered passionate interest in the arts and design.
From 1942 -1946, Ditzel originally trained as a cabinetmaker at the Richards School, before enrolling at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’, Furniture School with its founder, Kaare Klint.
She graduated with a degree in architecture while also studying philosophy and nurturing an interest in art history
Nanna Ditzel became a cabinetmaker, a background that gave her the fundamental understanding of furniture making prior to its design
In Copenhagen, the Cabinetmaker’s Guild held annual exhibits, from 1927-1968 that showcased the collaborative work of designers and cabinetmakers and cemented their professional cooperation.
Ditzel began showing her work at these exhibits while she was still a student.
At the Royal Academy, Nanna met her future husband, Jørgen Ditzel (1921–1961), with whom she shared a romantic, artistic, and professional partnership.
Even before marrying, the couple jointly exhibited their work many times in various competitions, winning a silver medal for their furniture designs at the Copenhagen Cabinet Maker’s Exhibition in 1945.
She was trained in cabinetmaking, He in upholstery and they shared a design aesthetic built on creating comfortable, livable and unassuming environments.
In 1947, she and her husband Jørgen started their own design studio, and Ditzel’s vision grew to encompass furniture (her toadstool collection, pictured above, is her most famous work), ceramics, jewelry and fabrics.
They subsequently engaged in the design of furniture as well as ceramics, enamels, glass and textiles.
The Ditzels spent the first part of their career, as did many post war designers in Denmark, trying to produce furniture that would expand, separate or serve a dual purpose in order to appropriately furnish a small apartment.
Two such innovations from them were a tea table with a top that lifted off to become a tray and a 1951 bed that tapered towards the foot to take up less space.
In 1949 Ditzel designed the functional, but more decorative, curved “Two Seat Sofa” and a 1951 chaise lounge for Knud Willadsen.
In 1952 they exhibited a series of children’s furniture in which leather flaps and laces were used in all the places that would have required screws and hinges.
The Ditzels had several children and a unique sensitivity towards designing for their smaller scale.
They believed that functional design could benefit all ages and implemented features such as beds that become sofas during the day so that children could get more mileage out of their personal space.
The Ditzel’s cozy 1959 “Basket” chair, designed to be suspended from the ceiling, is the most famous example of their experiments working with wicker.
They also designed a set of enamel kitchen utensils for the Ravnholm factory in the 1950s, and Nanna designed a series of jewelry that won a prize from the Goldsmith’s Association in 1950.
She would later collaborate with Georg Jensen on more jewelry designs.
Not only do Ditzel’s designs span the seasons, her eye for practicality allowed her work to serve several functions.
After the birth of her twin daughters, for example, she created children’s furniture that was serviceable as the kids grew up.
For example, the high chairs pictured above could be used for babies and toddlers, then transformed into a plant stand.
In 1954, she also collaboratied with Georg Jensen Silversmithy ( was the first woman to design for Georg Jensen. )
Following Jorgen’s untimely death in 1961, Nanna Ditzel kept the studio going
Jørgen died at age 40, leaving Nanna with a family to raise (the couple had three daughters together: Dennie, born 1950, and twins Lulu and Vita Vita, born 1954) as well as a studio to run
Throughout the 1960s, her designs caputured the feelling of liberation and idealism that defined that decade.
And despite coming from an arts and crafts background, she was not afraid to work with new materials.
While her forms are influenced by the organic world, she embraced working with fibreglass, metal and rubber as readily as she did textiles and wood.
It’s little wonder that some of the great design houses were so eager to work with her.
In 1962, a year after Jørgen’s untimely death, Ditzel came out with the successful “Toadstool,” which was a multi-purpose, stacking stool or table for children.
She produced textiles for Kvadrat and furniture for Fredericia, Kvist, Getama and others.
While all of her pieces are inspired, Ditzel always balanced function and form.
During the 1960s Ditzel contributed to the journal Mobilia organized by Gunnar Bratvold.
She also created a large collection of textiles for Unika-Vœv, which later became the Halling-Koch Design Center.
The 1960s were a time of great experimentation for Nanna Ditzel, particular in her choice of media, which included polyester, fiber glass, wicker, cane, teak and foam rubber, as well as her color scheme, which often incorporated vibrant reds and blues, as well as sharply contrasting patterns of black and white.
Nanna additionally experimented in split-level floor seating, featuring low-lying chairs and cushions for Danish homes that often featured sunken or raised platforms in their living spaces.
An example of Nanna’s split-level seating experiments is the “stairscape” she created in 1966 for the showroom of the Danish firm Unika-Voev, for whom she designed various textiles.
In the realm of textile design, one of Nanna’s most enduring innovations is the simple yet durable 1965 pattern Hallingdal, still produced and distributed by Kvadrat and used widely throughout Denmark.
In 1968 she married fellow designer and artistic partner Kurt Heide and relocated to London where she said that “many things were done otherwise than in our own matter-of-fact country.”
The couple lived in England together for fifteen years, where they founded the company Interspace International Design Center, a firm specializing in jewelry, textiles and furniture that still enjoys its reputation as a leading international furniture house.
From 1970 she maintained a design firm and showroom in London, where she displayed furniture, textiles, jewelry, and porcelain of her own design.
After Heide’s death in 1985, Nanna returned to Copenhagen and began working for Fredericia, a leading Danish design manufacturer renowned for its exquisitely made furniture.
Two of Nanna’s most popular designs were created during her tenure with Fredericia: Bench for Two (1989)—a sculptural, plywood piece adorned with mesmerizing black and white geometric patterning that won a gold medal in Japan’s 1990 International Furniture Design Competition—as well as her vibrant Butterfly Chair (1990), a dramatic, red and black piece that cleverly evokes inspiration from the natural world.
These two designs boosted Fredericia’s reputation as a producer of cutting-edge designs
Ditzel has won many major awards during her long career and has had her work exhibited all over the world.
In the 80s and 90s, Nanna took an active role in the leadership of many Danish art and design organizations.
In 1995, she received the “Order of the Dannebrog,” one of the highest honors that can be awarded to a Danish citizen.
She was elected Honorable Royal Designer in London in 1996, and received the lifelong Artists’ Grant from the Danish Ministry of Culture in 1998.
In 1999, she was awarded the Bindesbøll Medal to honor her contributions to Danish design
She received the silver and gold medals at the Milan Tirennale (1954 and 1960), the Lunning Prize (with Jorgen Ditzel in 1954) and a gold medal at the International Furniture Design Competition in 1990, and the Thorvald Bindesboll Medal in 1999.
She has also taken on the title of Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog, Honorable Royal Designer ( 1996).
Her work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Danish Museum of Decorative Art in Copenhagen, and the Louvre in Paris.
Nanna Ditzel has exhibited internationally with One Woman exhibitions in Amsterdam, Berlin, New York, Vienna, London, Stockholm, Milan, Glasgow, Manchester, Reykjavik, Paris and nationally in Denmark
Among her designs in continuous production are jewellery for Georg Jensen, textiles for Kvadrat and furniture for Fredericia Furniture, Snedkergaarden, Getama, OneCollection, SikaDesign and others.
And Ditzel never stopped designing until a few months before her death in June 2005.
Further information: see
The film on Nanna Ditzel, her designs and working methods (Produced 1991 by Danish Ministry of Education).
Motion and Beauty; The Book of Nanna Ditzel, by Henrik Sten Møller (Published by Rhodos 1998).
Danske Designere Nanna Ditzel, by Hanne Horsfeld (Published by Aschehoug 2005)